Analysis Of The Use Of Cinematic Techniques In Slumdog Millionaire

Jamal Malik is a character in Danny Boyle’s film “Slumdog millionaire” who appears on the Mumbai version ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’. He has one question left to win twenty million rupees using his past experiences. Jamal answers questions from the game show with past experience in an attempt to locate his long lost love Latika. He has to prove his innocence after being accused of cheating. Jamal Malik’s character is introduced as he’s being questioned by a cop who is certain that Jamal is cheating his way through the program. Jamal continues to proclaim his innocence even after he has been beaten and electrocuted. He also slapped him and tried to drown him. The film’s opening scene explores the themes of perseverance and hardship. Danny Boyle’s use of diegetic or non-diegetic music, camera angles, and camera shots are all used to show the importance of perseverance in the face hardship. The audience learns from Jamal, the main character of the movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ that persistence is key when facing adversity.

Danny Boyle’s film opens with a series of diegetic noises to illustrate the horrors Jamal endured during his interrogation. They also highlight Jamal’s unwavering will. The interrogators will torture Jamal while a diegetic electrifying sound plays. The audience is made aware of its importance by the amplification. By amplifying this sound, the audience can get a realistic picture of what Jamal was going through during the torture. In the opening cut of the scene, it is clear that Jamal has been electrocuted in order to confess his cheating during the game show. Jamal, who insists on his innocence despite the hardship of electrification in the film, is shown as a strong and courageous character. Jamal is admirable for being true to his self and inspiring to the audience. The audience also feels sympathy and concerns for Jamal. Jamal’s persistence in enduring the torture pays dividends later on when the interrogators think he is telling truth and allow him to go on the game.

Diegetic Sound is also used in the next scene to show the crowd clapping, laughing, and cheering for Jamal. Diegetic sounds enhance the suspense, and the viewers are made aware of how popular Jamal’s show is. The previous sound was characterized by electrification, which Jamal had to endure. Jamal is able to be back on the game show because of the laughter and applause. This creates suspense as the audience watches how Jamal performs in the competition. The audience remembers how his determination to keep his word led to being allowed back onto the show. He is now being cheered on by the viewers who are laughing. This also gives the impression that Jamal is going to win. The sudden change in scene from a basement filled with gruesome sounds and tortured tones, to an arena full of bright lights, accompanied by the audience’s exuberance, is overwhelming. Boyle uses effective contrasts to highlight the importance of perseverance and staying strong despite any obstacles that may arise.

Boyle uses non diegetic sounds to emphasize the effects of Jamal’s hardships. The opening sequence uses a non-diegetic, amplified “tick tock” sound to create tension. The sound is amplified to make the audience aware that the scene is important and forces them to pay attention. The tick-tocking sounds remind us of a timer and we know that the clock is closing in. Boyle uses the tick-tock sound to place us in the same position as Jamal – being under pressure to answer questions and to continue the game show. Despite being under so much pressure, and having to be very nervous, Jamal answers the question. The audience is also nervous and feels tension as they are in the same position as Jamal. Later on, we realize that Jamal had a calm, composed and determined way of presenting himself throughout the show. This helped him win the final 20 million rupees prize and to find Latika.

Danny Boyle’s Slumdogmillionare highlights Jamal the determined character through camera shots. Jamal shows his determination as a youngster when he jumps in excrement for an autograph from his favorite actor. Jamal, holding Amitabh with his right hand in close-up, is seen in the background. The audience knows that Jamal is locked in a toilet and he wants to be able to get out so he can meet his favorite actor. The audience can tell that Jamal will cover himself in excrement to get the autograph he wants. A long low angle shot shows Jamal, now covered in excrement on the top of a hill, as he is about to win. Jamal is rewarded for his bravery by getting the autograph. As well, the literal journey uphill reflects Jamal’s journey to overcome obstacles and challenges. Boyles uses camera shots to show that Jamal is prepared to go through hardships to succeed. The audience can see Jamal’s sincere desire to be with Latika, as a teenager in the film. His brother also plays a role in Jamal not achieving this goal. The film and this scene use effective camera shots to emphasize the message that one can overcome challenges in life with perseverance.

Boyle uses camera angles to reveal Jamal’s vulnerability due to his participation in the game show. The opening sequence uses a dutch-angle to reveal that someone has their eyes on Jamal. The audience knows that someone has the power to influence Jamal. This angle makes Jamal look weak and in desperate need. Jamal’s weaker position gives viewers the impression that whoever has the power to hurt Jamal, in this instance the interrogator. The viewers are left wondering who is in charge and what may happen to Jamal. Jamal’s vulnerability and weakness makes us feel sympathetic towards him. We confirm our suspicions later on, as we watch Jamal be tortured. Jamal has the ability to prove himself in spite of his false image. The torture he undergoes and his hardships allow him to overcome his ‘weakness.’ Jamal’s intimidation is demonstrated by a bird’s eye perspective angle in the game-show atmosphere. The camera angle puts Jamal right in front of the hundreds of spectators, highlighting his bold personality. Jamal put himself on a game show to try and find Latika. Jamal’s camera angle shows that he has a strong desire to answer every question, just like he had to do to be on the show. He has been able to win 20 million rupies by answering specific questions in a game show correctly. The suspense builds and we’re unsure of what the next episode will be. Jamal’s courage to join the game and his resolve to answer all questions to locate Latika are both reasons we applaud him. Boyle has used camera angles to make Jamal appear vulnerable, but in both cases his perseverance led him to success. In the film, Boyle confirms that persevering in a particular direction may be difficult, but it’s important to keep going to succeed.

Boyle has used visual and oral elements in Slumdog to convey the perseverance Jamal demonstrated in proving he is innocent and finding Latika. The visuals and sounds in the film confirm that it is important to be determined when faced with hardship. The audience can relate to the character Jamal and learn how to be determined in the face of hardship.


  • kaydenmarsh

    I am Kayden Marsh, 34yo educational blogger and school teacher. I am a mother of two young children, and I love spending time with them and learning new things. I also enjoy writing about education and children's issues, and I hope to continue doing so for the rest of my life.

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